Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

While it might be getting a little late in the year for a lazy afternoon at the beach, Seating Arrangments would be a perfect beach read.  This story of a weekend wedding on an exclusive island in New England is full of scandal, intrigue, and small intimate family moments.

The point of view alternates between a host of well-developed characters, beginning with the father of the bride, Van Meter, a middle aged man obsessed with belonging to exclusive clubs.  We also meet the visibly-pregnant bride, Daphne, her heart-broken, younger sister/maid-of-honor Livia, and gaggle of amusing bridesmaids and groomsmen.  As this group prepares for the wedding, they come together in interesting (and sometimes illicit!) ways.

Shipstead gives her readers a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy, as they go through one of the most familiar rituals of family life.  She has created wonderfully different voices for each of her characters, and the differing perspectives allow the readers deeper into this world.  This novel will appeal to both adults and older teens (there are few scenes that may not be appropriate for younger readers, but teens will be able to relate to the college-age characters)

If you enjoy reading about the scandalous lives of the well-bred, you might also like The Innocents by Francesca Segal and the novels of Anita Shreve, including Testimony.  And for slightly younger readers, the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Zeigesar brings a simliar world to life.

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